- Union Civil Aviation Minister questions 5/20 rule
- Banks to get commission for unlocking household gold, RBI says
Environment & Ecology
- World Bank to loan $250mn for Jhelum, Tawi Flood Recovery plan
- ‘India, France can gain by sharing strategies against terrorism’
Science & Technology
Union Civil Aviation Minister questions 5/20 rule
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said he is against restrictive policies like 5/20 rule that would hamper the growth of the civil aviation industry in the country.
- Raju said when asked about the government’s stand on abolishing the ‘5/20’ Rule.
What is 5/20 rule?
According to the ‘5/20 rule,’ all airlines in India need five years of domestic flying experience and at least 20 aircrafts in its fleet in order to fly abroad.
- The rule has been a subject of heated debate between domestic airline operators. They have viewed that the ‘5/20 rule’ in India would mean less economic activity as aviation has been a key growth generator for other countries like Singapore and Dubai.
- This was proposed in the new draft civil aviation policy.
- While the private airlines which are allowed to fly abroad — IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet — have all opposed the proposal to abolish the rule, new airlines Vistara and AirAsia India are in strong favour of relaxing the norm.
- However, the Civil Aviation Ministry is still undecided on whether to keep the 5/20 rule, abolish it or replace it with some other regulation in the civil aviation policy which is yet to go to the Union Cabinet.
Banks to get commission for unlocking household gold, RBI says
Under a new gold monetisation scheme, the Indian government will pay the participating banks a 2.5 percent commission to unlock the country’s massive stash of gold.
- The 2.5 percent commission will make the scheme attractive for banks even after offering a decent interest rate to customers.
- The central bank viewed that the ambitious plan received a poor response from banks and customers.
- Now the government has decided to pay the participating banks a total commission of 2.5 percent, including 1.5 percent handling charges, for the first year
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Gold Monetisation Scheme last year end to lure an estimated 20,000 tonnes of gold hoarded in households and temples into the banking system and trim the import bill of the world’s second biggest gold consumer after China.
Reasons for poor response:
- Only a few kilograms trickled in over the last two months as banks showed little interest in popularising the scheme because of negligible returns for them.
- Banks, however, were saying they could not offer attractive rates unless the government compensated them for the loss from higher rates.
Support from banks is crucial to the success of the scheme. Similar programmes in the past have failed as they were not profitable for the banks.
About the scheme:
- Under the Gold Monetisation Scheme, Indians are encouraged to deposit jewellery, bars or coins with banks so it can be refined to meet fresh demand and cut the need for imports.
- Banks are allowed to accept gold under medium- and long-term deposit schemes. For the medium-term deposit, the tenure is 5 to 7 years and customers can earn 2.25 per cent interest per annum.
- For long-term deposits, the tenure is 12 to 15 years and customers can earn 2.50 per cent interest per annum.
- Withdrawals are allowed after a minimum lock-in period of three years for medium-term deposits and five years for long-term deposits, although such withdrawals will attract a penalty in the form of a lower interest rate.
Environment & Ecology
World Bank to loan $250mn for Jhelum, Tawi Flood Recovery plan
The government of India and the World Bank has signed the Financing Agreement for World Bank (IDA) assistance of US$ 250 million for Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project.
- It is a loan for an implementation period of 5 years.
- A Subsidiary Agreement was also entered into between Government of India and Project Implementing Entity i.e. Government of Jammu & Kashmir.
About the project:
- The Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project will focus on 20 flood-affected districts of J&K.
- The objective of the project is to support the recovery and increase disaster resilience in Project Areas and increase the capacity of the Project Implementing Entity to respond promptly and effectively to an eligible crisis or emergency.
- The project will focus on restoring critical infrastructure using international best practice on resilient infrastructure.
- The primary beneficiaries would be the communities in the districts of Jammu & Kashmir that were affected by loss of public service infrastructure that will be restored and improved under the project.
- Apart from reconstruction, the project will focus on disaster risk mitigation.
- The project has seven components:
(i) Reconstruction and strengthening of critical infrastructure;
(ii) Reconstruction of roads and bridges;
(iii) Restoration of urban flood management infrastructure;
(iv) Restoration and strengthening of livelihoods;
(v) Strengthening disaster risk management capacity;
(vi) Contingency Emergency Response; and
(vii) Implementation Support.
‘India, France can gain by sharing strategies against terrorism’
India and France are carrying out Shakti 2016, the joint exercise under way in Rajasthan, which focusses on counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations.
Terrorism in both the countries:
- There are differences between the French and Indian experience of handling terror, but both sides will benefit by exchanging ideas and strategies for a larger goal.
- Terror threats to France are from Syria, Iraq and other such unstable spots faraway from French borders. But the terror India face is of cross-border nature, from Pakistan.
That is why both the nations need international collaboration so that financial channels and political supporters of state- sponsored terrorism can be dealt with by using the United Nations.
Benefits from collaboration:
- Collaboration with France on counter-terror will also help to bring in anti-terror resolutions at the United Nations and on other multilateral platforms in near future.
- Greater French support for India’s decades-old anti-terror struggle would help India attain both regional as well as global targets in the fight against terrorism
Last year, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations spoke about the organisation’s inability to give a “robust” response to international terrorism after the India-backed resolution against 26/11 plotter and LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi failed to go through the Security Council because of Chinese opposition.
Science & Technology
Kiran Global Chems Ltd. has introduced its indigenously-developed eco-friendly Geocement.
- The company claims that Geocement will play a role in cutting carbon emission levels while being stronger than Portland cement.
- The company also claims that though some countries have been engaged in development and piloting of green cement, we are the first one to come out with green cement for commercial use.
Geocement is made of:
Geocement, which is made out of industrial wastes, comes in two-part packing – 35 kg Geocement powder and 15 kg Geobinder liquid. Both can be mixed at construction sites like normal cement.
Benefits of using Geocement:
- For every tonne of cement production, there will be about 800 kg of CO2 emission. Geocement will have a direct impact on brining down the emissions levels significantly.
- The anti-bacterial properties of the cement can be used for construction of underground seweage pipes and toilets as well.
- Price will be slightly higher but Geocement assures of lower finished building costs.